With threats from a top official in Pennsylvania’s Democratic-dominated administration ringing in their ears, officials from one Pennsylvania county have refused to participate in an audit of the state’s 2020 election results.
Although Tioga County is led by Republicans, county solicitor Christopher Gabriel said cooperating with the audit proposed by state Sen. Doug Mastriano would in effect be operating with a sword over the heads of county officials, according to KDKA-TV.
Last week, Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid, an appointee of Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, issued an order ensuring counties could not cooperate with an election audit even if they wanted to.
“County Boards of Elections shall not provide physical, electronic, or internal access to third parties seeking to copy and/or conduct an examination of state-certified electronic voting systems, or any components of such systems, including but not limited to: election management software and systems, tabulators, scanners, counters, automatic tabulating equipment, voting devices, servers, ballot marking devices, paper ballot or ballot card printers, portable memory media devices (thumb drives, flash drives and the like), and any other hardware, software or devices being used as part of the election management system,” the order said.
And if any county were to be so bold as to defy the Democratic state administration and provide its voting machines for an election audit, it would pay the price.
The order threatened that if a county were to allow an outside agency to audit its machines, “the Department of State will withdraw the certification or use authority for those pieces of the county voting system.”
Then came the hammer.
“The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will not reimburse any cost of replacement voting equipment for which certification or use authority has been withdrawn pursuant to this directive,” the order said.
Gabriel said that left Tioga County with very little wiggle room.
“We can’t be in a position where we don’t have the election machines, because we have to run the next election, these are extremely expensive machines and our position is we need to follow the direction that the secretary has given us,” Gabriel said.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald additionally implied that, if asked, his county will also not participate, noting that such a move would “cost the taxpayers of Allegheny County millions of dollars and potentially have the machines that we bought invalidated in which we can’t use them again.”
So far, the proposed audit is only focused on Philadelphia, Tioga and York counties.
“Such access by third parties undermines chain of custody requirements and strict access limitations necessary to prevent both intentional and inadvertent tampering with electronic voting systems,” she said. “It also jeopardizes the security and integrity of the systems and will prevent electronic voting system vendors from affirming that the systems continue to meet Commonwealth security standards and U.S. Election Assistance Commission certification.”
Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that regardless of what anyone thinks, enough is enough.
“We have already had two legal audits and dozens of legal opinions all stating the same thing, there was no widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. No counties should comply with these ‘demands,’ and if they do there will be substantial costs to counties and voters, including disclosure of personal data,” he noted in the statement issued by Degraffenreid.
“The Department of State’s directive clearly states that turning voting machines over to third parties jeopardizes the security of future elections. Any county that chooses to risk the safety of our elections by complying with the demand letter will not be reimbursed for the cost of replacing voting machines, which would leave taxpayers in these counties on the hook for millions of dollars.”
Mastriano said Degraffenreid had “issued a threat disguised as a ‘directive’ to Pennsylvania counties,” according to the Erie Times-News.
“This threat implied that any county who participates in forensic investigation and allows access to electronic voting systems to ‘third party entities not directly involved in the conduct of elections’ will have their machines automatically decertified and retired before the next election,” Mastriano said.
“Even worse, the counties would be forced to pay for new voting system equipment and prevented from seeking reimbursement from the State Department.”
Mastriano said Degraffenreid lacks the authority to “make a predictive finding, automatically retire voting systems after third party access, and force counties to pay for that decision.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.